Whether in the city or way off the beaten path, follow these rules to make your cycling safer.
Generally speaking, riding bikes is good for you. It’s fun, healthy, and reduces pollution. But cycling can also be dangerous. According to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 50,000 cyclists are injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes and there are over 600 cycling-related deaths in the U.S. per year. So how can you protect yourself? Heed these 10 tips for safer cycling.
1. Wear a helmet: According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, over 70 percent of cycling-related fatalities involve riders who were not wearing a helmet.
2. Be cautious when approaching intersections: As the advocacy group Bikes Belong reports, a third of cycling fatalities occur at or near intersections.
3. Use paths of safety: Off-road paths, on-road marked bike lanes, and on-road bike routes are where bicyclists are most safe.
4. Pay attention: Always keep your eyes and ears open for what’s going on around you and be ready for car doors, loose dogs, or lost drivers who might dart into your path at any moment.
5. Follow the rules: Many cyclists may not want to hear it, but the best way to stay safe on the road is to follow the rules. Stop at lights and signals, signal your turns, and don’t weave in and out of traffic.
6. Be seen: You don’t have to dress in full neon to go for a simple bike ride, but do what you can to help people see you. Reflective clothing and blinky lights are always a good idea, and in some places mandatory.
7. Assume drivers don’t see you: Even with lights and reflective gear from head to toe, drivers sometimes will still fail to see you. Always be ready in case drivers try to pass too close, cut you off, or turn across your path.
8. Avoid blind spots: Even in the safest cycling cities, cyclists get into trouble when they ride or wait at intersections in the blind spot of vehicles, especially trucks and buses. Never stop and wait between a truck/bus and the curb at a red light. If they make a right turn, you’re in trouble. Instead, wait behind them.
9. Avoid distractions: Everyone hates the texting driver (or cyclist). Resist the urge to listen to tunes, answer a call, or text your while you are riding. Full attention on the road in mandatory no matter what kind of vehicle you’re piloting.
10. Stay off sidewalks: A surprising percentage of car/bike crashes occur when turning drivers run into cyclists coming off a sidewalk because they don’t see you or you are going faster than they expect.
What are some of your tips to stay safe on the road?